Sunday, December 29, 2013

For in Acceptance Lieth Peace

"For in acceptance lieth peace." -Amy Charmichael

"...It is our response to our circumstances rather than the degree of difficulty that determines whether or not we are discontent." -Jerry Bridges ( from Respectable Sins)

I have a hard time accepting change. Especially when it is a change in my plans. It unsettles me, it threatens to ruin a perfectly good day. I often become irritated, worried, unkind, angry, and I find someone to blame for messing them up. I don't want unpredictable schedules and last minute plans. I like to to know in advance, to be able to make plans more than 2 weeks out, and to control my schedule.

My life hasn't gone the way I had planned when I was in college. We didn't feel that calling to missions in Africa when I thought we would, instead we've settled down and made roots in the US. Our jobs have changed multiple times in the past 3 years, have had less than predictable hours, and some have felt less than fulfilling. We've lost loved ones, had friends move away, experienced job loss, and our vehicles have broken down at some of the most difficult times.

God created me with a love for planning, but He also asks that I trust Him when those plans change and to serve Him faithfully wherever I am, in whatever I'm doing. Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails". God has used these changes in my plans to show me that I need him, and that He wants me to depend on him for everything. I am comforted by 1 Peter 5:7 that says, "Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you". God is sovereign over all things and I certainly can't change what's happened or control what will happen. It is only by His grace and power that I can respond differently and that He has given me a husband who is much more flexible.

Even amid the difficulties we've faced this year and changes in plan, I have never felt more blessed. While there are some things I will never understand the reason for, I have begun to see that His plans are far better than I could have imagined them to be. My rebellious heart still wants to believe that my plans are ultimately best, but it's comforting to know that God's plans will prevail and that they are full of amazing promise and hope. He is making us more like Himself and while He may bring trials there will also be so much joy.

This past year we have known this joy. The joy of extra time to spend with friends and family a normal 8-5 job wouldn't allow. The joy of discovering we'll be aunt and uncle again. The joy of God's provision through His people in ways we've needed most so we'd have no cause for anxiety. The joy of new friendships, of closer relationships with a spouse, with friends and with our Heavenly Father. The joy of receiving and sharing the answer to a prayer we've long been waiting for. God, teach me to continue to see that joy you have given me in the midst of the brokenness.

Psalm 73:25,26,28 
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works."

"The good that God works for in our lives is conformity to the likeness of His Son. It is not necessarily comfort or happiness but conformity to Christ in ever-increasing measure in this life and in its fullness in eternity." -J. Bridges (Trusting God)

Adam and I before The Ugly Christmas Sweater Run this December

Christmas Mini Photo Session

I love these sweet, beautiful, little girls!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O ye beneath life's crushing load

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Luke 2:13,14
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

What an amazing opportunity we have to reflect at Christmas on what Jesus has done for us and to stop and listen to what the prophets foretold and the angels proclaimed at His birth. Even as the load we carry may be threatening to crush and our steps seem so slow and painful, we can hold fast to this hope and believe in this promise He offers us today. In God's tender mercy, He has given us salvation through forgiveness of our sins. We can look forward to the return and reign of a loving King in new heaven and earth forever, where our brokenness, sickness, and death are exchanged for eternal joy and peace in His glorious presence.

Isaiah 9:2-3,6-7
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

Luke 1:76-79
"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Merry Christmas!
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Friday, December 13, 2013


There is a battle that goes on in my heart, a tension I can't seem to get rid of. At times I try to quiet it, to block it out and make it go away through any distraction I can find or excuses I can make.

It began when I saw a film that exposed a new world to me. A world where people will walk for days just to get medical care for reasons such as their child having a tumor in their mouth or stomach the size of a melon. Where clean water is rare, where there is only 1 doctor for the millions of people, and 1 meal or just a cup of tea some days is the norm. I began to read any book I could find on social justice only to discover that slavery still exists today in human trafficking, that children in Uganda and other African countries were being kidnapped and trained to be soldiers, and that AIDS was destroying families. I would exchange notes with a friend in class and wonder why we had to sit and wait and stay in high school or go to college when all we wanted to do was go to Africa and save the world!

That's when God called me to Nursing, a way I felt I could really make a difference in places of great need. Being generally horrible at and hating Science (for as long as I could remember) I promised God that I would do nursing, but that He would have to provide me the grades to make it. It was through Nursing school that I really saw that God is the one who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. And He sustained me through Nursing School.

During Nursing school I went to Kenya where I spent 2 months each summer building friendships with children living in poverty. I saw the reality of what I'd read about. The poor nutrition and lack of clean water that made the children in the school unable to focus on school work and frequently become sick. A child discovering he is HIV positive. The children who lived at Shunem home because they were from abusive homes, or were orphans or certain to become orphans because their family members had AIDS and could no longer care for them.

But I also began to see JOY in the midst of this poverty. Joy that didn't come from having the securities and comforts I took for granted, but a joy that came from salvation through grace and faith in a loving God. They had their fears, the uncertainty of when their next meal might be, but they believed God would provide. It was the joy of community, of caring for one another so that no one went hungry or felt alone in their fight against AIDS. They reminded me that God simply wants us to live in dependence on Him- He is all we need, the source of our life. As a nurse I saw that people not only need physical healing through medicine and money, but they need Jesus who proclaimed, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor" (Luke 4:18-19).

There is that tension between what I believe and how I am living and questions which sometime come in the middle of the night, waking me up and challenging me: Do I live like Christ is all I need? Will I sacrifice living according to my wants and desires so that the Gospel might go out and the compassion of Christ shown to the needy? Will I go outside of my safety net of Christian friends to reach out to my neighbors whose lives look good on the outside, but need Christ to change their hearts? Will I live below our means so that I can give more to those who really need and so that the Gospel can go out to the nations? Will I remember those children in Kenya who are joyfully living even without clean water and full bellies?

Or will I live the life of comfort and ease that the United States has to offer? Will I ease my conscience by thinking that the poor in places like Africa have adjusted to that life of poverty or that they don't know any better? That it is okay to buy what I want, because everyone else has it and I have the money.

But in my heart I know that God has called me to more than a life of pursuing my wants and my pleasures. I look to Jesus who lived in full dependence on God for everything from where he rested his head to his next meal. Jesus sacrificed his very life out of great love so that we might live for Him. The Great Commission calls us to go out to our neighbors and to the ends of the earth to share Christ's love and his salvation that is for all people. When that becomes my focus and purpose, all worldly comforts and pleasures become unimportant. The tension of how I spend my pay check to how I spend my time and with whom requires that I give all of these things up to God who gave them to me in the first place.

It does not come easily and although I know in my heart it is good, I struggle to obey, to do what God is calling me to do. But He has not given up on me and I pray that He would continue to remind me that there is nothing more important than Himself in my life.

Hebrews 12:1-3
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
II Corinthians 4:16-18
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Sunday, December 1, 2013


We braved the incredibly cold weather for this photo shoot! I've known this friend since elementary school and it was fun having her as my model for this shoot. Her laughing smile is my favorite and it makes me smile just looking at each of these photos.


You are beautiful, my dear friend!

Mother and Son